Just sign on the dotted line, that’s all.
Recruiting decisions impact the football landscape more often than a college analyst mutters the words “Denard Robinson”. But there’s one particular decision that has sent shockwaves all the way to this year’s emerging National Championship picture.
Terrelle Pryor’s decision to attend “The Ohio State University” is one that we should be talking about when BCS Bowl Week arrives. That one decision is turning out to have an impact on the title game itself.
You see, what many people don’t realize is that when National Signing Day arrived a few years ago, Terrelle Pryor chose to delay his decision. Pryor was also not just considering Ohio State and Michigan as his final destination.
Two more schools were considered to be in the mix.
Penn State was one. After all, Pryor attended high school in Pennsylvania. That, plus Pryor’s Dad has a fondness for Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program.
But there was also one more: The Oregon Ducks.
We may never know if either school had a legitimate shot, but each was still considered in the mix for Pryor, as reported by USA Today’s Gary Mihoces in February 2008.
“They’re definitely in the picture,” Pryor said of Oregon in 2008. “I’ll be taking a flight out to Oregon to check it out.”
Obviously, the real reason for bringing this up today is this: There are three standout teams in college football to date: Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon.
Here’s the key, though. The Oregon Ducks are not afraid to open up the offense and let loose. “Tressel-Ball”, meanwhile, is about as conservative as the sweater vest that the Buckeyes head coach wears on game day.
For the “nutheads” that want to state otherwise, pointing out that the Buckeyes threw the ball 37 times in last year’s Rose Bowl win against Oregon – that’s fine.
Critics will also point out that Tressel has hinted that Ohio State could throw the ball 30 times a game throughout 2010, as reported by The Plain Dealer before the season began.
Sure, words are all fine and dandy. I mean, someone out there thinks Les Miles can tell time, too.
But how will the play calling schemes pan out for OSU when the big-time schools arrive on the schedule? That’s especially if a team can find a way to contain Pryor?
Yes, Pryor is a rare talent – one that can throw and run. He needed to be thrown into the fire immediately. There was a need for Pryor to fine-tune his pass-game skills.
But while Pryor has seen playing time as a freshman at Ohio State, he was often coddled along the way. Specifically, Pryor only threw 165 passes during his first season.
Entering the 2010 Big Ten schedule, certainly didn’t cruise by lowly Illinois last Saturday.
In particular, Pryor left the game with an injury and finished 9-of-16, for only 76 yards, coupled with 104 yards on the ground.
There are definitely still question marks with the Ohio State offense.
Sure, Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes have enjoyed a great deal of success in the Big Ten over the last few years. Then again, everything could have been just ducky if TP was wiping the Pac-10 clean instead. See what I did there?
The point (and dream) being built here isn’t just that the college football world was potentially close to having an Oregon Ducks offense led by LaMichael James and Terrelle Pryor – two of the fastest players in all of college football.
We obviously know that didn’t happen. At the time, the Ducks had Jeremiah Masoli in place. He eventually left the program for disciplinary reasons.
The heir apparent was Darron Thomas, who has filled in quite nicely in the Oregon offense.
The point is more the fact that we shouldn’t be holding both Alabama and Ohio State as the clear favorites to hoist up that crystal football in early January.
Instead, the college football world should embrace its new pigskin love triangle. A trio of teams that circle around this one decision from February 2008.
Finally, the east coast bias disappears and the Oregon Ducks receive some hype as a frontline title contender.
After all, this is an Oregon team that has scored 42+ points in each of its games, including 52 against Stanford last Saturday.
This is an Oregon team that is second in the country in rushing offense and first in scoring offense.
This is also an Oregon team that features Heisman candidate RB LaMichael James, who leads the nation in rushing yards vs. AP ranked teams, with 257. James also has 712 yards on the season, featuring an 8.0 average and 7 TD’s.
The Ducks have the kind of speed that can put up a show against an SEC powerhouse like Alabama. This would make for a very exciting national championship game. We’re talking one that could rival that of Texas and USC a few years ago.
That is, of course, if the Crimson Tide can survive the rigors of its SEC schedule.
For weeks, the signs have been pointing towards Ohio State and Alabama meeting in the national title game.
But the Ducks are here, too – and you can thank Terrelle Pryor for his decision, because we wouldn’t be in this situation if not for him.
* Also posted to my Bleacher Report page